Wilton Diptych Comes to Oxford

One of the greatest treasures of the National Gallery, and one of the greatest masterpieces of English mediaeval art, can be seen in Oxford this summer...free.

The Wilton Diptych, the exquisitely beautiful devotional work commissioned for, and portraying, King Richard II, is being lent to the Ashmolean just until 1st September 2024.

It's in the same room as King Alfred's jewel, and is naturally attracting almost as much attention as a pop star. How did this work of art manage to survive the Reformation? We don't know, any more than we know who painted it.

But take your chance to see this gorgeous dual painting with its delicately drawn figures, rich colours, gilding and elaborate symbolism.

The white hart, so graceful and gentle, was Richard's personal emblem.

When I was there I overheard a little boy asking his mother, "Why is it called the Wilton Dipstick?" 

It's an understandable mistake. By all accounts - particularly Shakespeare's - Richard II was a bit of a dipstick. He spent a fortune on clothes and lavished gifts on his favourites. He brutally betrayed and executed the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt and he grabbed the inheritance of his cousin, Bolingbroke. No wonder he was toppled from the throne. But he had good taste in art, so come and enjoy it.

If you think this is too good to be free you could always leave a voluntary donation, or even just buy a couple of coffees downstairs, which amounts to the same thing.